Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Friday, May 31, 2013

2013-05-30 "Civil Rights Groups File Lawsuit Alleging Massive Human Rights Violations at Mississippi Prison"

[commondreams.org/newswire/2013/05/30-0]:
The lawsuit, which was announced at a rally this morning, can be viewed here: [aclu.org/prisoners-rights/dockery-v-epps]
This press release is available at: [aclu.org/prisoners-rights/civil-rights-groups-file-lawsuit-alleging-massive-human-rights-violations]
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JACKSON, Miss. - May 30 - The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, describing the for-profit prison as hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and dangerous, "operating in a perpetual state of crisis" where prisoners are at "grave risk of death and loss of limbs" and often resort to setting fires to receive medical attention. The facility, located in Meridian, Miss., is supposed to provide intensive treatment to the state's prisoners with severe psychiatric disabilities, many of whom are locked down in long-term solitary confinement.
"The East Mississippi Correctional Facility is a cesspool," said Gabriel Eber, staff counsel with the ACLU National Prison Project. "When you combine solitary confinement, abuse, lack of basic medical and mental health care, and denial of basic human needs, it's a recipe for disaster. The East Mississippi Correctional Facility is a throwback to the brutal prisons of decades ago, and the Mississippi Department of Corrections must do better."
The class action lawsuit against state prison officials describes how prison officials have known of these conditions for years but failed to protect the health and safety of prisoners. The ACLU and SPLC offered to pay for an assessment of the system last year, but the offer was rejected. The facility is operated by the Management and Training Corporation with health care provided by Health Assurance, LLC.
"The issues found at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility represent a long history of inhumane prison conditions in which the state has allowed private prison operators to mistreat and abuse people," said Jody Owens II, managing attorney for the SPLC Mississippi office. "As we remember the tragic costs associated with private prison operators, we must demand more oversight of these facilities."
The lawsuit filed today describes a facility where prisoners are often locked in filthy cells and ignored even when they are suffering from serious medical issues. Many cells lack light and working toilets, forcing prisoners to use trays or plastic bags that are tossed through slots in their cell doors. Rats often climb over prisoners' beds, and some prisoners capture the rats, put them on makeshift leashes, and sell them as pets to other inmates.
Although designated as a facility to care for prisoners with special needs and serious psychiatric disabilities, EMCF denies prisoners even the most rudimentary mental health care services. One prisoner is now blind after EMCF failed to provide his glaucoma medications and take him to a specialist, and another had part of his finger amputated after he was stabbed and developed gangrene.
The prison also seriously underfeeds prisoners. According to the lawsuit, a correctional health expert notified the Mississippi Department of Corrections of this problem after reviewing prisoner records that showed a pattern of prisoners losing significant amounts of weight at EMCF – some more than 20 or 30 pounds.
Despite evidence demonstrating the adverse effect of long-term solitary confinement on prisoners' mental health, the prison continues to place prisoners in isolation for weeks, months or years at a time with little stimulation or access to showers and medical care. Prisoners in solitary confinement frequently set fires or flood their cells to get attention for medical treatment.
"Solitary confinement is a difficult thing for anyone to handle but it is especially challenging for a person suffering from mental illness," said Alesha Judkins, senior advocate at SPLC. "Prisoners who suffer from hallucinations report that isolation absent treatment and stimulation exacerbates their condition and impacts their overall health."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013-05-29 "We’re Being Watched How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists"

by Adam Federman from "Earth Island Journal" [http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/we_are_being_watched/]:
In February 2010 Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC) [http://www.gdacoalition.org/], an environmental organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the region. The group sought to appeal to the widest possible audience, and was careful about striking a moderate tone. All members were asked to sign a code of conduct in which they pledged to carry themselves with “professionalism, dignity, and kindness” as they worked to protect the environment and their communities. GDAC’s founders acknowledged that gas drilling had become a divisive issue misrepresented by individuals on both sides and agreed to “seek out the truth.”
The group of about 10 professionals – engineers, nurses, and teachers – began meeting in the basement of a member’s home. As their numbers grew, they moved to a local church. In an effort to raise public awareness about the risks of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) they attended township meetings, zoning and ordinance hearings, and gas-drilling forums. They invited speakers from other states affected by gas drilling to talk with Pennsylvania residents. They held house-party style screenings of documentary films.
Since the group had never engaged in any kind of illegal activity or particularly radical forms of protest, it came as a shock when GDAC members learned that their organization had been featured in intelligence bulletins compiled by a private security firm, The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). Equally shocking was the revelation that the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security had distributed those bulletins to local police chiefs, state, federal, and private intelligence agencies, and the security directors of the natural gas companies, as well as industry groups and PR firms. News of the surveillance broke in September 2010 when the director of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, James Powers, mistakenly sent an email to an anti-drilling activist he believed was sympathetic to the industry, warning her not to post the bulletins online. The activist was Virginia Cody, a retired Air Force officer. In his email to Cody, Powers wrote: “We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.”
The tri-weekly bulletins featured a wide range of supposed threats to the state’s infrastructure. It included warnings about Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, pro-life activists, and Tea Party protesters. The bulletins also included information about when and where groups like GDAC would be meeting, upcoming protests, and anti-fracking activists’ internal strategy. The raw data was followed by a threat assessment – low, moderate, severe, or critical – and a brief analysis.
For example, bulletin no. 118, dated July 30, 2010 gave a low to moderate threat rating in reference to public meetings that anti-drilling activists planned to attend, and suggested that an “attack is likely… and might well be executed.” The threat assessment was accompanied by this note: “The escalating conflict over natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania may define local fault lines and potentially increase area environmentalist activity or eco-terrorism. GDAC communications have cited Northeastern Pennsylvania counties, specifically Wyoming, Lackawanna and Luzerne, as being in real ‘need of our help’ and as facing a ‘drastic situation.’” Another bulletin referenced an August 2010 FBI assessment of the growing threat of environmental activism to the energy industry. Because of Pennsylvania’s importance in the production of natural gas, ITRR concluded, an uptick in vandalism, criminal activity, and extremism was likely.
Although the Pennsylvania scandal caused a brief public outcry, it was quickly brushed aside as an unfortunate mistake. In fact, the episode represents a larger pattern of corporate and police spying on environmental activists fueled in part by the expansion of private intelligence gathering since 9/11.
By 2007, 70 percent of the US intelligence budget – or about $38 billion annually – was spent on private contractors. Much of this largesse has been directed toward overseas operations. But it is likely that some of that money has been paid to private contractors – hired either by corporations or law enforcement agencies – that are also in the business of spying on American citizens. As early as 2004, in a report titled “The Surveillance Industrial Complex,” the American Civil Liberties Union warned that the “US security establishment is making a systematic effort to extend its surveillance capacity by pressing the private sector into service to report on the activities of Americans.” At the same time, corporations are boosting their own security operations. Today, overall annual spending on corporate security and intelligence is roughly $100 billion, double what it was a decade ago, according to Brian Ruttenbur, a defense analyst with CRT Capital.
The surveillance of even moderate groups like GDAC comes at a pivotal time for the environmental movement. As greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, opposition to the fossil fuel industry has taken on a more urgent and confrontational tone. Some anti-fracking activists have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience and the protests against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline have involved arrests at the White House. Environmentalists and civil libertarians worry that accusations of terrorism, even if completely unfounded, could undermine peaceful political protest. The mere possibility of surveillance could handicap environmental groups’ ability to achieve their political goals. “You are painting the political opposition as supporters of terrorism to discredit them and cripple their ability to remain politically viable,” says Mike German, an FBI special agent for 16 years who now works with the ACLU.
The Pennsylvania episode is not an isolated case. The FBI and Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a Koch Brothers-backed lobbying group, have both taken an interest in anti-drilling activists in Texas. In the fall of 2011, according to an investigation by The Washington Post, the FBI was digging for information on the leader of Rising Tide North America [http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/], a direct action environmental group, because of his opposition to hydraulic fracturing (Rising Tide has also been active in organizing protests against the Keystone XL pipeline). Ben Kessler, a Texas-based activist, told the Post that the FBI had received an anonymous tip to look into his activities. The agency also showed up at the office of Kessler’s philosophy professor, Adam Briggle, who teaches an ethics course that covers nonviolent civil disobedience and the history of the environmental movement. Briggle, who has been involved in organizing residents to impose tougher regulations on gas drilling in Denton, Texas, told the Post that, “it seemed like a total fishing expedition to me.”
About a month after he was approached by the FBI, Briggle received a notice from his employer, the University of North Texas, asking him to turn over all emails and other written correspondence “pursuant to City of Denton natural gas drilling ordinances and the ‘Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group,’” an organization Briggle founded in July 2011 whose mission is similar to that of GDAC [http://dentondrilling.blogspot.com/]. The university had received a request under the state’s Public Information Act and Briggle was forced to hand over more than 1,300 emails. He was later told that the request had been made by Peggy Venable, Texas Director of Americans for Prosperity.
Rising Tide activists had speculated that the anonymous tip came from one of the gas companies active in the region. Although there was no way to prove a connection between the FBI’s investigation and AFP’s mining of Briggle’s emails, both were viewed within the activist community as acts of intimidation. Briggle says, “The message is, you’re being watched.”

During the last decade the FBI and, to a lesser extent, corporations have elevated the threat of eco-terrorism to a top priority even as environmentally motivated crimes have declined. In 2005, John Lewis, an FBI deputy assistant director, said the animal rights and environmental movements were “one of the FBI’s highest domestic terrorism priorities.” In the post-9/11 era, the outsourcing of intelligence gathering to private companies has ballooned, the bar for investigating domestic threats has been lowered, and a premium has been placed on information sharing with the private sector. “What changed after 9/11,” the ACLU’s German says, “was the lowering of the threshold for FBI investigations and the promulgation of these radicalization theories that while specifically written about Muslim extremists – the same theory that people move from ideas to activism to terrorism – justified increased surveillance against activists and against people who were just part of the environmental rights movement but had no association with violence or criminal acts.”
Since 9/11 accusations of eco-terrorism have proliferated and a number of individuals and groups have been prosecuted under new laws, which have profoundly impacted the radical environmental movement. The broad crackdown and subsequent fear and paranoia that swept through activist circles have been referred to as the “Green Scare.” “The shift was gradual,” Will Potter writes in Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege [http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780872865389-2], “slowly merging the rhetoric of industry groups with that of politicians and law enforcement.”
In public, corporations have amplified the threat of eco-terrorism to influence legislation, such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. In private, meanwhile, they have hired firms to spy on environmental groups. About a month after 9/11, for example, the crisis communications firm Nichols Dezenhall (now Dezenhall Resources) registered a website called StopEcoViolence.com (now defunct), which served as a sort of faux watchdog group and source for media outlets including The New York Times. Around the same time, Dezenhall – described by Bill Moyers as the “Mafia of industry” – was involved in corporate espionage. Along with two other PR companies, Dezenhall hired a now-defunct private security firm, Beckett Brown International, to spy on environmental activists. One of the targeted groups was Greenpeace. In 2011 Greenpeace filed a lawsuit charging that Dow Chemical, Sasol (formerly CONDEA Vista), the PR firms, and individuals working for Beckett Brown International (which was founded by former Secret Service officers) stole thousands of documents, intercepted phone call records, trespassed, and conducted unlawful surveillance. In a story for Mother Jones, James Ridgeway revealed that the security firm obtained donor lists, detailed financial statements, Social Security numbers of staff members, and strategy memos from several groups, and, in turn, “produced intelligence reports for public relations firms and major corporations involved in environmental controversies.” (In February a Washington, DC court ruled that the claims of trespass and misappropriation of trade secrets could proceed.)
More recently, according to a report in The Nation, the agricultural giant Monsanto contracted with a subsidiary of Blackwater, the private security firm, to gather intelligence on and possibly infiltrate environmental groups in order to protect the company’s brand name. “This is the new normal,” says Scott Crow, an author and longtime environmental activist who was the subject of FBI and corporate surveillance for close to eight years beginning in 1999.
While the above cases involved corporations hiring private security firms to carry out black-ops against environmental groups, the Pennsylvania scandal may be the first time that a state agency has contracted with a private security firm to gather intelligence on lawful groups for the benefit of a specific industry. Although the ITRR bulletins were produced for the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, they were shared with PR firms, the major Marcellus Shale companies, and industry associations. For members of GDAC and other anti-drilling organizations, the revelations were profoundly troubling. Not only were they being lumped together with groups like Al-Qaeda, but the government agencies tasked with protecting the people of Pennsylvania were, in their view, essentially working for the gas companies. If a moderate group like GDAC wasn’t safe from the surveillance-industrial complex, it seemed nobody was. “These systems and this type of collection is so rife with inappropriate speculation and error – both intentional and unintentional – that your good behavior doesn’t protect you,” German says.
Tom Jiunta, the founder of GDAC, says the ITRR bulletins had a chilling effect. Attendance at GDAC meetings declined and some members left the group altogether. Organizers assumed that their phones had been tapped and that their emails were being monitored, a common perception among anti-drilling activists. At meetings they would leave their cell phones outside or remove the batteries. Jiunta, who has a podiatry practice in downtown Kingston, began to take different routes to work because he was worried about being followed. “We kind of assume that we’re being watched,” he says. “Even now.”
Indeed, the intelligence gathering continues. Although the state canceled its contract with ITRR, the company still works for the natural gas industry, according to GDAC attorney Paul Rossi. “An employee with one of the gas companies has told me that he is willing to testify that ITRR is still conducting operations for the gas companies and they are focusing in on environmental groups,” Rossi says. (In 2010 GDAC filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and ITRR on First Amendment grounds. Because it’s a private company or a “non-state actor,” the judge ruled, claims against ITRR were dismissed. The terms of a settlement with the state have not been reached. ITRR did not return requests for comment.)
Like many of the activists I spoke with, Jiunta underscored the fact that he’s never been drawn to conspiracy theories. GDAC’s code of conduct was designed to weed out those whom Jiunta described as “wackos.” Jiunta admits that he was pretty na├»ve when he first got involved in anti-drilling activism; he would print out large stacks of information on fracking to bring to state senators, who politely told him not to waste their time. Now, his faith in the role of government has been shattered. “People worried about being on a watch list,” he told me. “It was shocking.”

In the wake of the surveillance scandal Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director James Powers resigned and the state terminated its $103,000 no-bid contract with ITRR. Then-governor Ed Rendell called the episode “deeply embarrassing” and a one-day Senate inquiry was held. In testimony before the committee, Virginia Cody, the retired Air Force officer who had become a critic of gas drilling, said: “For the first time in my life, I do not feel secure in my home. I worry that what I say on the phone is being recorded. I wonder if my emails are still being monitored.”
The hearing sought to answer questions about how the contract was awarded, why citizen groups exercising their First Amendment rights were included, and, crucially, who received the information. Powers explained that the information was distributed to various chemical, agricultural, and transportation companies mentioned in the bulletins. At least 800 individuals were on the distribution list. In the case of gas drilling activism he explained, “It [the bulletins] went to the security directors of the Marcellus Shale companies and DEP (Department of Environmental Protection).”
This is only partially true. A list of the individuals and groups who received the bulletins shows that industry associations and PR firms that have nothing to do with protecting the state’s infrastructure were also included. For example, one of Powers’s key contacts on Marcellus-related activity was Pam Witmer, then head of the Bravo Group’s energy and environmental practice as well as president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, a business advocacy group. The Bravo Group is a public relations and lobbying firm based in Pennsylvania. Its clients include Chief Oil and Gas, Southwestern Energy, and People’s Natural Gas, all of which are deeply invested in Marcellus Shale production.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry lobbying group, was also on the distribution list. In 2010 the coalition signed a $900,000 lobbying contract with Ridge Global, a private security firm founded by Tom Ridge, former head of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. As part of its energy consulting services Ridge Global offers “advisory support for natural gas and other infrastructure security.” Ridge is just one of many former security officials who now have private consulting services. Others include John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, and Richard Clarke.
The blurring of public and private spying is what Dutch scholar Bob Hoogenboom calls “grey intelligence.” In a 2006 paper of the same name, Hoogenboom noted that in addition to well-known spy agencies like MI6 and the CIA, hundreds of private organizations involved in intelligence gathering have entered the market to meet corporate demand. “The idea was to do for industry what we had done for the government,” Christopher James, a former MI6 officer who founded Hakluyt, a private intelligence company whose clients have included Shell and BP, told the Financial Times. Many corporations now have their own private intelligence networks, or “para-CIAs,” to gather information on consumers, critics, and even their own shareholders. Walmart, for example, has an office of global security headed by a one-time CIA and FBI official with a staff that includes former State Department security experts. As Eveline Lubbers writes in her recent book, Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate and Police Spying on Activists [http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Manoeuvres-Dark-Corporate-Activists/dp/0745331858], “Because these business firms hire former spies and analysts from the ranks of government, the informal links with government intelligence increase.”
This is a global phenomenon. Corporations in Europe and Canada have also spied on environmental groups. In 2006 French energy giant EDF, the world’s largest operator of nuclear reactors, hired Kargus Consultants, a private intelligence gathering agency run by a former member of the French secret service, to spy on Greenpeace. Kargus hacked into a lead Greenpeace organizer’s computer and compiled a dossier on the organization’s European campaign strategy. In 2011 a French court fined EDF 1.5 million euros and sent two of its employees to jail on charges of illegal spying.
Although it was not raised at the Pennsylvania Senate hearing, the ITRR bulletins also were shared with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In January a Montreal paper reported that the RCMP itself has been tracking anti-shale gas activists in Quebec. The Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Team, a branch of the RCMP, produced two reports that described the possibility of Canadian activists collaborating with “extremist” groups in the US, such as Earth First! [http://www.earthfirst.org/] and Occupy Well Street [http://www.occupywellstreet.blogspot.com/] – an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street [http://occupywallst.org/] opposed to fracking. According to Jeff Monaghan, a researcher with the Surveillance Studies Center at Queen’s University in Ontario, the Canadian government likely shares intelligence with the energy industry. Since at least 2005 the Canadian government has held biannual intelligence briefings to share sensitive information with the private sector. In 2007 Gary Lunn, former Minister of Natural Resources, admitted his agency had helped more than 200 industry representatives obtain high-level security clearances. “This enables us to share information with industry and their associations,” Lunn said at a pipeline security forum.
Similar arrangements have been uncovered in the UK. In 2009 it was revealed that the British police and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform had provided information about Climate Camp demonstrations to E.ON, the company that runs the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. E.ON also hired private security firms like Vericola and Global Open to spy on protesters; both companies are staffed by former intelligence agents.
The specter of environmental extremism has been used to justify information sharing between law enforcement and the private sector. Last year, Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, warned that environmental groups “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”

“It’s the new politics of the petro-state,” Monaghan says. “Anything that’s remotely linked with direct action or nonviolent civil disobedience is being described as extremism, which is the new code word of security agencies.”

The fossil fuel industry’s targeting of its critics goes beyond mere surveillance. Natural gas drilling companies have also flirted with using the dark arts of psychological warfare, or “psy ops.” In comments recorded by an anti-drilling activist at a 2011 natural gas conference in Houston and leaked to CNBC, Matt Pitzarella, director of corporate communications at Range Resources, said Range had hired “several former psy ops folks” with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania [sic],” Pitzarella said.

At the same conference, Matt Carmichael, a PR specialist with Anadarko Petroleum, referred to the anti-drilling movement as an “insurgency” and advised industry representatives to download the US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable,” he told his colleagues.

The oil and gas industry has good reason to feel besieged. Opposition to fracking, especially, is on the rise. New York State has in place a moratorium against the drilling technique, and legislators in California are considering a similar ban. A white paper prepared by FTI Consulting, a DC-based PR firm with ties to the shale gas industry, recently warned, “Environmental activists are looking to undermine the strategies and operations of energy companies.… Adding to the activists’ momentum is the fact that a growing number of mainstream shareholders are supporting their proposals.” But given the absence of any physical attacks against drilling company assets, the industry’s view of its opponents smacks of paranoia. In August 2012, iJET International, a private security firm founded by a former National Security Agency operative, issued a risk assessment of anti-drilling protests in New York State. In one of its daily intelligence bulletins distributed to corporate clients the firm observed, “Protests against hydraulic fracturing have gained considerable momentum over the past few months…While most demonstrations have been peaceful, participants say they are hoping to intensify actions in hopes of disrupting operations at targeted facilities.”

The US Army Counterinsurgency Manual that was offered as suggested reading for shale gas industry representatives includes an appendix on Social Network Analysis, defined as “a tool for understanding the organizational dynamics of an insurgency.” In an age of digital networks and online activism, this often means using data-mining software, cyber surveillance, and in some cases outright computer hacking to track opposition groups.
At the 2011 natural gas conference in Houston the CEO of Jurat Software, Aaron Goldwater, gave a presentation on the subject of data mining and stakeholder intelligence. In his presentation he emphasized the importance of knowing the communities you work in, of tracking and mapping relationships, and compiling a sophisticated database that includes all offline and online conversations. He pointed to the military as a model. “If you look at the people who are experts at it, which is the military, the one thing they do is gather intelligence,” he told the audience.
Corporations have already taken advantage of network forensic software to keep tabs on their own employees. The new technology, which allows companies to monitor an employee’s activity down to the keystroke, is one of the fastest growing software markets. There is a fine line, however, between data mining – which is perfectly legal though largely out of view – and cyber surveillance, or hacking.
While it is difficult to prove hacking, many activists are convinced their computers have been tampered with. Kari Matsko, a professional software consultant and director of the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative in Ohio [http://ohiogasdrilling.com/], says her computer was hacked after she began to push for tougher regulation of the natural gas industry.
Matsko got involved in environmental activism after hydrogen sulfide gas was released from a well site near her home. In 2008 she started helping a group of citizens who had filed a lawsuit against one of the larger energy companies in Ohio on grounds of nuisance violations and loss of property value. She spent many months doing research and collecting files related to the case, some of which she described as damning.
Because of her profession Matsko has very strong computer security and says that prior to working on oil and gas issues she had never had problems with malware. But while assisting with the lawsuit Matsko’s computer was attacked by a sophisticated virus. Matsko was able to remove it and everything seemed fine. About a month later, though, she unsuccessfully tried to open the computer folder that contained the sensitive files related to the lawsuit. The files were either missing or corrupted. “I remember I was so terrified by it that I didn’t even tell people unless it was in person,” she says.
Other activists have described similar cyber security-related issues. Around the time the ITRR bulletins were made public, Jiunta told me, members of GDAC experienced persistent problems with their computers. “Everybody was getting suspicious,” he says. “I had computer issues. Some are still having issues.”
John Trolla, a 61-year-old musician and guitar instructor whose communications were also featured in the ITRR bulletins, has been an outspoken critic of shale gas development for several years. In 2007 Chief Oil and Gas offered him a signing bonus of $1,400 to lease his mineral rights. Trolla, who lives in a modest two-story home in northeastern Pennsylvania, refused. He’s been fighting the industry ever since.
“This is something that’s bigger in my life than I ever wanted it to be,” he says. “Five years ago, when I first started getting involved in this and I started talking to people, I would say to myself, ‘these people are a little crazy.’ Five years later I sound like them.”
Immediately after the intelligence bulletins were made public Trolla’s computer became nearly unusable. Documents were corrupted and irretrievable; photos were disappearing and programs wouldn’t work. A relatively new machine with a high-end operating system, Trolla had it serviced at a Best Buy in nearby Muncy. He was told by the Geek Squad at Best Buy that a highly sensitive program that acts like a Trojan Horse had been installed on his computer. According to Trolla, “They said that the program monitors every key stroke, every email, everything you do on the computer.”
Nearly all of the activists I spoke with said the Pennsylvania Homeland Security revelations, while giving them pause, had not changed their behavior. They continue to speak out, to attend public meetings, and to push for greater oversight of the industry. Still, “it leads to some scary possibilities in the future,” says Eric Belcastro, an organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund [http://www.celdf.org/]. “I don’t sit around being paranoid about this stuff. I just try to do what I have to do and get along with my life. But I admit the playing ground is rough and I think people need to be careful.”

Even as corporations expand their surveillance of citizen-activists, they are seeking to obstruct public oversight of their own behavior. It’s a bit like a one-way mirror of democratic transparency – with corporations and law enforcement on one side looking in and activists on the other.
Pennsylvania is a case in point. In early 2012 legislators there passed “Act 13,” a set of amendments to the state’s Oil and Gas Act, which essentially stripped local municipalities of the authority to regulate drilling activity through zoning ordinances and other measures. The law also requires doctors who treat patients exposed to fracking chemicals to sign a confidentially agreement before receiving information about the substances. The gag rule would prevent them from sharing that information with the patient or even other doctors (GDAC’s current president, Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez, is challenging this provision).
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced into the Pennsylvania legislature that would make it a felony to videotape farming operations in Pennsylvania – so-called “ag-gag” legislation that has already passed in Utah and Iowa, and has been introduced in several other legislatures. Many of the ag-gag bills draw on language crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.” (In recent years ALEC has received considerable support from the natural gas industry). Section D of the ALEC bill defines an animal or ecological terrorist organization in broad terms “as any association, organization, entity, coalition, or combination of two or more persons” who seek to “obstruct, impede or deter any person from participating” not only in agricultural activity but also mining, foresting, harvesting, and gathering or processing of natural resources.
The proposed law has many anti-drilling activists worried. If such language were included in the bill (it is currently in committee and will be revised before it comes to the floor) it would greatly limit the ability of residents to photograph or video well sites, compressor stations, and pipeline development – all of which could be considered part of the “gathering or processing of natural resources.”
“It’s clearly legislation that could be easily expanded in any particular case to include folks like me who do whatever we can to get as close to some of these sites as we are able,” says Wendy Lee, a philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University who regularly photographs the industrial impacts of gas drilling and then posts them on her Flickr page.
Lee says that among anti-drilling activists there is a sense that 2013 is a do-or-die year. The state Supreme Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of Act 13. As the drilling boom moves into ever more populated areas, activists are gearing up for more focused organizing and larger nonviolent protests. With tens of thousands of wells yet to be drilled, at least this much is clear: The industry will be watching closely.

Monday, May 20, 2013

North Carolina security agencies attack Moral Monday assembly

Anti-Fascism: 'Moral Monday' social justice vigil in North Carolina [link]

"North Carolina NAACP protests reach highest arrest count yet"
2013-05-20 from "ABC 11" [http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9108744]:
RALEIGH -- Fifty-seven protestors were arrested Monday at the North Carolina General Assembly, bringing the demonstrations led by the state chapter of the NAACP to their highest total in their fourth straight week.
Hundreds thronged the Senate rotunda to show support for demonstrations that are drawing increasing numbers of people to Raleigh for what the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling "Moral Mondays." General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver placed the arrest count at 57, which brings the total over four weeks to 153.
Hundreds more supporters remained outside the General Assembly before and after the protests, waiting for those arrested to emerge.
What started with tens of supporters and 17 arrests has attracted hundreds of people of different age groups, races and professions to protest the policies of the General Assembly, which came under Republican leadership after the 2010 midterm elections. Their complaints range from cuts to social programs to the proposed repeal of a law intended to take racial bias out of capital punishment.
Rich D'angiolillo, a 63-year-old software developer from Mebane, said he heard about the demonstrations from friends and decided he needed to join the supporters to raise his voice against a decision to forego a Medicaid expansion that would have completely covered 500,000 people through 2016.
"I'm not sure if it is the best way or not, but I feel that I have to do something," he said. "I don't feel that my efforts in other ways - letter writing, phone calls - have worked that effectively, so I'll keep trying until something does work."
Leigh Bordley, a member of the Durham Public Schools board, stood among those risking arrest to challenge proposals she said will only exacerbate achievement gaps caused by poverty. She said a House proposal to give grants to families who send their children to private schools will further undermine funding for public schools.
"These are vouchers under another name," she said. "They are simply a way to transfer money to private companies."
Those arrested have faced misdemeanor charges of trespassing, failure to disperse and violating building rules, specifically those against raising placards or signs.
The NAACP contends those arrests may violate First Amendment rights. Chapter president the Rev. William Barber said his group's attorneys continue to study possible challenges, partly based on wording in the state constitution that references the citizens' right to "instruct" their legislators.
"There is some question among a lot of legal scholars about how you can arrest somebody for holding up an eight-by-ten placard that says, 'Don't cut Medicaid' when you have the right to instruct," Barber said.
Weaver said he's consulted with staff attorneys and is confident the arrests fall within reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on First Amendment rights.
"They're the ones that are coming in and causing the disruption," he said. "We've always given any group access to express their first amendment rights. We issue permits for the outside of the facility."
The Monday protests will resume after Memorial Day, when the NAACP will begin a 25-county tour of public gatherings across the state.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Targeting of Black Leadership

New Afrika vs. DHS repression -
Left: Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense for the New Afrika Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) [link]; Right: DHS Director Jeh Johnson [link]. One defends the People, one makes war against the People.

The Old Jim Crow has become the New. Nothing changed. A captive nation has voices advocating for liberation. And the regime governing the USA seeks to repress all threats to the security of it's economy, including the use of the DHS against all expressions of New Afrika's cultural liberation.
A new trend of targeting Black folks' leaders has been witnessed by us which is not discussed by monopolized media. This is our method of breaking the censorship blockade.
This archive contains links to archives containing details about DHS agencies against well-known community empowerment advocates:
* Hands off Ghetto Prophet (Oakland) [link]
* Malcom-Latif Shabazz, Rest In Power [link]
* Hands off Prince (San Francisco Bay Area) [northbayuprising.blogspot.com/2013/03/hands-off-prince-hasheem-bason-targeted.html]
* Targeting of the Uhuru Movement [link]
* Hands off Fly Benzo! (San Francisco - Hunter's Point) [link]
* Hands Off Kilo G.! (San Francisco - Hunter's Point) [northbayuprising.blogspot.com/2011/08/hands-off-kilo-g.html]

2013-05-13:


DHS security agencies direct force against Human Rights advocates, including harassment, assassination attempts, and coercion, as found in the following examples:
* Justice for Guy Jarreau, jr.! (d.2010-12-11; Vallejo) [northbaycopwatch.blogspot.com/2011/01/justice-for-guy-jarreau-jr.html]
* Justice 4 Mario Ramiro (d.2012-09-03; Vallejo) [northbaycopwatch.blogspot.com/2012/09/vallejo-pd-executes-mario-romero.html]
* Justice for Kenneth Harding, jr. (d.2011-07-16; Bayview/Hunter's Point)[northbayuprising.blogspot.com/2012/12/justice-for-kenneth-harding-jr.html]
More info about Justice campaigns against Police Murder and Systematic Cover-Up (in the San Francisco Bay Area, parts of the Central Valley): [northbayuprising.blogspot.com/2013/01/justice-campaigns-against-police-murder.html]

Targeting of the Uhuru Movement


LOCAL POLICE OUT OF CONTROL - UHURU MOVEMENT ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY DEFENSE PLAN!
What: Press Conference
When: Thursday, November 21, 12:00 p.m.
Where: Silver Lake Park, 13th Street & 11th Avenue South, St. Petersburg
Contact: Sandra Forrest, 727-698-3092
On Thursday, November 21st at 12:00 p.m., Uhuru leader Diop Olugbala along with neighborhood residents and victims of police violence, including Jernorris Green and Debbie Newkirk (Anthony Newkirk’s sister) will talk with the press at Silver Lake Park about their demands for an end to heavy-handed policing, racial profiling, “extra-legal” arrests, brutality, civil rights violations and high-speed chases carried out by the St. Petersburg police and Pinellas County Sheriffs.
They are calling on Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman to take immediate action and will announce the community’s own plans to put a stop to the attacks suffered by black residents at the hands of the police. They cite 3 recent incidents as representative of a routine practice of violating the rights of black residents.
On November 8th, Jernorris Green, a 37-year-old black man, was assaulted by 3 St. Petersburg police in Silver Lake Park. Green had been approached by a St. Pete cop who told to sit on a bench and wait. After confirming that he was not being arrested, Green exercised his legal right to walk away. Police back-up arrived and 3 cops threw Green to the ground, knees in his back and neck. The incident was video taped by witnesses. The police seized the witnesses’ phones and then returned them after protest by a gathering crowd. Green awaits charges on battery on a police officer.
On November 1st, Anthony Newkirk, a 32-year-old black man, was shot twice in the face and once in the chest as he sat in his car by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy during a sting operation. Newkirk has been denied bond despite the fact that he has deep roots in the community, including small children who he takes to school. Newkirk is being denied medical attention, held in jail with open wounds.
On September 25th, Diop Olugbala, President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, was stopped by St. Petersburg police while riding his bicycle near 13th Street and 15th Avenue South. When he criticized the police practice of harassing law-abiding residents of the south side, he was thrown against the police car and arrested for riding his bike on the wrong side of the street, obstruction and running a stop sign, although there is no stop sign where the police claimed he ran it.
High speed police chases through the black community have resulted in the loss of life and property of innocent bystanders. Olugbala says that the recently published transcripts of police radio communications expose the St. Pete police department’s hostile and aggressive policy of occupation and disrespect of the black community.
Olugbala declares that, “We call on Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman to take immediate action to remedy these cases and to announce a policy change to ensure such practices will not continue. Kriseman was only elected because of widespread support from black voters. If he wants to make positive change in the city, he must first address this crisis confronting our community. We in the community are making our own plans to protect our people.”


"Uhuru Communique: President Diop Olugbala is free!"
2013-05-16 [uhurunews.com/story?resource_name=president-diop-olugbala-arrested-by-the-nypd-take-action-now]:

**URGENT** PRESIDENT DIOP OLUGBALA WAS ARRESTED BY THE NYPD! TAKE ACTION NOW! CALL-IN TO DEMAND HIS RELEASE! USE HIS LEGAL NAME, WALI RAHMAN - AKA, DIOP OLUGBALA! CALL-IN 718-287-3211 FOR COMMANDER LEHR!
-Demand the immediate release of Wali "Diop" Rahman
-Let the NYPD that we hold them responsible for President Diop!
-Let them know where you are calling from! Tell them, "The eyes of the world are watching you."
 -We have a right to protest the police brutality and murders against the African community in New York!
 InPDUM President Diop Olugbala was arrested by the NYPD tonight, 5/16/2013 during a political action led by the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement to serve the people's subpoena during the 67th Precinct Community Council meeting.
 The people's subpoena was issued as part of the process to build a Court for Black Justice in response to the police terror waged against the African community of NYC including the recent murders of Kimani Gray and Shantel Davis.
 Diop Olugbala is the President of InPDUM and a respected activist and leader in defense of the democratic rights of the black community.
 The police are saying that President Diop has 11 warrants against him which is completely bogus!
Uhuru! Let us know when you call. If you are a lawyer or you know one who can go down to the precint, please contact the Uhuru Movement at 727.821.6620 or info@uhurunews.com
---
UPDATE (5-17-13 at 11:30am Eastern): Call the Kings County criminal court in Brooklyn and demand the immediate release of Wali "Diop" Rahman! Call supervising judge Michael Yavinsky at 347-404-9600!
 ---
UPDATE from Jesse Nevel, Outreach Chair at Uhuru Solidarity Movement: As the postings in defense of Prezident Olugbala continue to spread like wildfire, the NYPD's phones are ringing off the hook with calls from supporters around the world demanding FREE DIOP OLUGBALA! Call-in to demand NYPD release Wali "Diop" Rahman!!
If you run a blog/website/facebook group/page/tumblr/etc - SHARE THIS URGENT ACTION ALERT! http://uhurunews.com/story?resource_name=president-diop-olugbala-arrested-by-the-nypd-take-action-now
---
2013-05-17 UPDATE from Jesse Nevel: PACK THE COURTROOM FOR Prezident Olugbala's hearing this morning at Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn St!!! FREE DIOP OLUGBALA! Call-in to demand NYPD release Wali "Diop" Rahman!!!
FREE DIOP! Call the Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn and demand the immediate release of Wali "Diop" Rahman! Call Supervising Judge Michael Yavinsky at 347-404-9600!

---
2013-05-17-1400 UPDATE from Jesse Nevel: Diop is free. Victory for African people. Long live the African resistance. When the people struggle, the people win. Uhuru! He was freed as a result of the mass mobilization!

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013-05-13 "Tax Rates Down, Havens Thriving: Corporations Win, Workers Pay; Despite tough talk, corporations receiving increasingly friendly treatment from governments as working people carry the burden"

by Jon Queally from "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/13-2]:
When it comes to taxes, the corporations are winning and working people are losing. Big time.
Despite tough talk by European Union governments, US politicians, and numerous commissions and experts who have looked at the billions of potential tax dollars diverted through countries with more corporate-friendly rates or hidden in offshore havens, new reporting by Bloomberg shows that the policies and rates themselves continue to favor corporations while the burden of revenue shortfalls continue to be put on the backs of working people on both sides of the Atlantic.
From Bloomberg [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-13/europe-eases-corporate-tax-dodge-as-worker-burdens-rise.html]:
[begin excerpt]
As politicians in Europe and the U.S. talk tough on corporate tax dodging, several of their governments are helping multinationals lower tax bills. They have been cutting corporate rates, introducing laws that encourage tax avoidance, and rejecting proposals to close loopholes. Even amid growing public outrage in Europe against austerity policies, the gulf between rhetoric and reality on taxation means individuals rather than businesses are often bearing the brunt of higher taxes.
‘Avoidance Game’ - At a time when unemployment in the European Union is at record levels, nations eager for jobs remain hesitant to alienate multinational companies by raising their taxes. Instead, countries such as Spain, Greece, and Hungary have imposed hefty sales tax increases, a hit borne most severely by poor people.
“I am skeptical whether the different countries have the political courage to take on the corporate tax avoidance game,” said Sven Giegold, a member of the EU parliament from Germany’s Green Party. “You need consensus of the participating partners, and I do not see the leadership to force through a global model.”
[end excerpt]
In a joint press conference at the White House on Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron made it a point to say that he and President Obama made international tax policy a focus of their morning discussion.
However, Bloomberg points out that the UK has been one of the country's that has continually talked loudly about tax reform in Europe—closing loopholes, adding transparency, etc.—but has simultaneously lowered rates and rewritten policies that will make it easier for British firms to take advantage of nations with friendlier tax policies.
"Beginning last month," Bloomberg notes in addition, "the U.K. slashed the tax rate to 10 percent from the regular 23 percent rate on profit attributed to patents and intellectual property to lure research and technology jobs."
In the US, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that U.S. companies received tax breaks worth around 181 billion dollars in 2011 [http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653120.pdf], slightly more than what they paid in taxes.
Despite that, the calls in Washington continue to be for lower, not higher, corporate rates. That, of course, is despite the fact that most Americans think that corporate loopholes and low rates for the nation's wealthiest private corporations are simply unfair, given the disproportionate and growing burden they put on regular working people. When asked, many think stronger rules are needed to curb what they see as abuse of a system that has long been too friendly to multinationals.
As Inter Press Service recently reported [https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/16]: "According to recent polls, around 80 percent of the U.S. public and 85 percent of small-business owners support strengthened tax regulations that would make it far harder for corporations to exploit offshore tax havens."
“We can’t ignore corporate tax-dodging antics. Contrary to the scare tactics of tax-dodging corporations, by eliminating any incentives to locate subsidiaries overseas, closing loopholes will effectively keep jobs here in America,” said Dan Smith, Tax and Budget Advocate for U.S. PIRG, which has examined the situation deeply.
“When American companies use offshore tax havens to shirk their tax bill, ordinary taxpayers and small businesses are forced to pick up the tab through cuts to public programs, higher taxes, or more debt. That’s not acceptable.

2013-05-13 "Corporate Win: Supreme Court Says Monsanto Has 'Control Over Product of Life' Indiana farmer must pay agribusiness giant $84,000 for patent infringement"

by Jacob Chamberlain from "" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/13-3]:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of biotech giant Monsanto, ordering Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 75, to pay Monsanto more than $84,000 for patent infringement for using second generation Monsanto seeds purchased second hand—a ruling which will have broad implications for the ownership of 'life' and farmers' rights in the future [http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/13/us-usa-court-patent-idUSBRE94C0K820130513].
In the case, Bowman had purchased soybean seeds from a grain elevator—where seeds are cheaper than freshly engineered Monsanto GE (genetically engineered) seeds and typically used for animal feed rather than for crops. The sources of the seeds Bowman purchased were mixed and were not labeled. However, some were "Roundup Ready" patented Monsanto seeds.
The Supreme Court Justices, who gave Monsanto a warm reception from the start [https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/20-2], ruled that Bowman had broken the law because he planted seeds which naturally yielded from the original patented seed products—Monsanto's policies prohibit farmers from saving or reusing seeds from Monsanto born crops.
Farmers who use Monsanto's seeds are forced to buy the high priced new seeds every year.
Ahead of the expected ruling, Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds (SOS), and George Kimbrell, staff attorney for Center for Food Safety (CFS), asked in an op-ed earlier this year [https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/19-8], "Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?":
[begin excerpt]
Bowman vs. Monsanto Co. will be decided based on the court's interpretation of a complex web of seed and plant patent law, but the case also reflects something much more basic: Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?
[Monsanto's] logic is troubling to many who point out that it is the nature of seeds and all living things, whether patented or not, to replicate. Monsanto's claim that it has rights over a self-replicating natural product should raise concern. Seeds, unlike computer chips, for example, are essential to life. If people are denied a computer chip, they don't go hungry. If people are denied seeds, the potential consequences are much more threatening.
[end excerpt]
Bowman had argued that he was respecting his contract with Monsanto, purchasing directly from them each year, but couldn't afford Monsanto's high prices for his riskier late season crops. Bowman's defense argued that Monsanto's patent was "exhausted" through the process of natural seed reproduction and no longer applied to Bowman's second generation seeds.
“If they don’t want me to go to the elevator and buy that grain," Bowman had stated [http://rt.com/usa/patented-monsanto-court-patent-210/], "then Congress should pass a law saying you can’t do it."
The Center for Food Safety released a report in February [http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/1770/seed-giants-vs-us-farmers] which shows three corporations control more than half of the global commercial seed market.
As a result, from 1995-2011 the average cost to plant 1 acre of soybeans rose 325%.
As AP reports [http://news.yahoo.com/high-court-rules-monsanto-patent-case-141231110.html], more than 90 percent of American soybean farms use Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" seeds, which first came on the market in 1996.
Vandana Shiva, an expert on seed patents and their effects on farmers around the world, wrote recently [https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/27-4]:
[begin excerpt]
Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.
Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.
[end excerpt]
Indiana grain farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman walks past the US Supreme Court on February 19, 2013 in Washington (AFP/File, Mandel Ngan)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Anti-Fascism: 2013 POOR PEOPLES CAMPAIGN & MARCH FROM BALTIMORE TO WASHINGTON D.C.

[www.PeoplesPowerAssemblies.org]
BE PART OF HISTORY: Reclaim Dr. King’s dream during this special year
Ignite a fight for people’s rights!
[BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com] [410-500-2168] or [410-218-4835] [2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218]
Initiated by the Baltimore Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly

On the anniversary of the Poor Peoples Campaign ignite a fight for people’s rights.. RECLAIM DR. KING JR’S DREAM DURING THIS HISTORIC YEAR – 2013 MARKS THE 50TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1963 JOBS & FREEDOM MARCH and the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign!
Beginning on the anniversary weekend of the Poor Peoples Campaign, we will hold a civil rights walk and March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. and arrive in Washington on Sunday, May 12, 2013.
We invite people from around the country to join us in Baltimore on May 11th.
We are Marching because...

POLICE BRUTALITY & MASS INCARCERATION ARE GROWING -
Baltimore has become the capital of police killings! Since January, 2012, 16 people have been killed by the Baltimore City Police Department and not a single officer has been indicted. The epidemic of police terror and abuse are not confined to our city. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement has documented that every 36 hours a Black person is killed by police agencies in this country. Police repression and racism go hand in hand with the mass incarceration of young people, mostly of color, who are locked away in prisons across this country.
We march to bring national attention to these issues and to demand community control of police and an end to mass incarceration. On May 11, 2013 we will link arms with the families of the victims of police killings to demand that the Justice Department charge killer police.

POVERTY IS DEEPENING AND THE PEOPLE NEED JOBS, NOT JAIL -
One out of every four persons in Baltimore City lives below the poverty level. Growing poverty due to continuing depression level joblessness in every major city in this country and in many towns underscores the need to revive Dr. King’s fight to end poverty. Justice minded people everywhere must begin to prepare a united resistance to stop any and all austerity measures, whether it comes in the form of cuts to social security, Medicare, unemployment or food stamps.
We must renew Dr. King’s call for “Jobs or income now” and demand that the federal government: 1) bailout the people, not the banks; 2) provide a massive Works Projects Administration program to put the people back to work and 3) through Executive Order place a moratorium on home foreclosures.

WORKERS RIGHTS ARE UNDER ATTACK -
If the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive he would be on the front line of stemming the tide of right wing attacks on workers and unions couched in the misleading language of “right to work.” Dr. King would have been leading sit-ins to win justice for low wage workers from Wal-Mart to McDonalds. His last days were spent fighting for sanitation workers rights – this battle is yet to be finished.
On May 11th we will be marching to defend workers’ rights from Detroit to Atlanta.

JUSTICE FOR ALL IS NEEDED -
We will march to continue the ongoing struggle to stop racism, end attacks on immigrants, women and LGBTQ people.
We can no longer be divided from or consider a person as "illegal” simply because he or she has crossed a border; the fight for justice is far from over when someone can be profiled and murdered because they are Black, Latino/a, Native or Asian; it continues when women are still denied equal rights and LGBTQ people continue to suffer from violence and bigotry.

FUND EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE & HUMAN NEEDS, NOT WAR & OCCUPATION -
Dr. King proclaimed very accurately that “every bomb that falls on Vietnam, is a bomb dropped on our inner cities.” The names of the targeted countries and occupations have changed. What hasn’t is the growing trillions spent on the Pentagon that drain the wealth of this country and that could instead fund healthcare for every uninsured person, provide education for youth, stop school closings and provide jobs for all. Not only does war still threaten the people of this world, but the refusal to deal with ever growing evidence of climate change, and the insatiable desire to put profits before people, threatens the entire planet. The only way to build Dr. King’s beloved community is to end war and put people’s needs before profits.It is urgent that we reclaim Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and begin a new revolution to ignite a people’s movement for not only civil rights but human rights.
The Occupy movement inspired many, but the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign in Washington D.C. was, outside of other heroic examples in labor history, one of the first “occupations.” Let’s bring the movement together. Join the 2013 Poor Peoples Campaign March!
The campaign to reclaim Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in this historic year to fight back against police terror, austerity measures, attacks on workers and student rights was voted and consented on at the December 15, 2012, National Peoples Power Assembly.
We in Baltimore invite everyone to join us – from Oakland to Atlanta, from Detroit to New York. Our problems are the same as your problems – let’s stand together. If you are interested in organizing your community, school, or union to be part of this effort call us at 410-500-2168 or 410-218-4835 or email BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com. To sign on as an endorser of this effort please contact us by phone or email.

POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN and MARCH SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEKEND

FRIDAY, MAY 10 — 5:00 P.M. Pre-Poor People’s March Kick-off in the Community at Biddle Street and North Montford Avenue, 21213 – Join us from 5 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. Remember Anthony Anderson Sr. with family members. Hot dogs and refreshments! We will be putting together signs and listening to spoken word artists and singers. We’ll open up the People’s Power Assembly with a community speak-out, and showing videos as it gets dark. We will also canvas the neighborhood.

SATURDAY, MAY 11 — 10 A.M. The Poor People’s Campaign March rally begins. The March will start at 11 A.M. sharp. We will gather in the lot where Anthony Anderson Sr. was killed by Baltimore Police. This is one of the poorest communities in Baltimore. At a brief rally, we will recognize all who have come.
Representatives of the families of Alan Blueford and other victims of police killings will be coming from as far away as Oakland and California’s Bay area. Students are coming from local campuses and from other cities. A bus of poor people and union workers from Boston will join us.
OUR Walmart workers, who are fighting for workers’ rights will join us in Baltimore and later in Hyattsville. We will be marching past one of the super Walmart’s.
We will take a break for bag lunches as we exit Baltimore City and begin our March down Route 1. Route 1 is the historical route used by prior Civil Rights leaders in the campaign to desegregate restaurants and other facilities. It’s important that we raise the demand to defend voting rights, which are under attack.
The Baltimore and Washington D.C. Metropolitan AFL-CIO Councils have both endorsed, along with the national United Food and Commercial Workers Union Minority Coalition and other union locals.
 Several key things to be aware of: There will be support vehicles, vans, and cars, so there will be options. Some people may choose to ride the entire route. Most will take breaks and alternate between walking and riding. Some participants will also have to drive. For those activists who view the 41-mile march itself as very important, we are making it possible for them to walk the entire route. From our own experience and that of others who have done this, the key is unity, a lot of spirit, group decision–making and lots of water.
The “Rude Mechanical Band” from the Occupy movement will take part in this walk. Some Boston school bus drivers from United Steelworkers Local 8751 will have a special sound car, which will blare great music.
We will break near Elkridge/Columbia which is about 1/3 of the way. There, we will be greeted by local activists for a break and dinner at the side of the highway. We will also schedule bathroom breaks on the route.
Students and activists will greet us at the University of Maryland College Park, where we will continue our People’s Power Assembly and hear and record testimony, thoughts and proposals from participants.
Depending on physical needs, there will be floor space for bedrolls and sleeping. For those who need beds, we will arrange for motel rooms nearby. For some Baltimore and regional participants who have brought cars, they may go home to sleep and return the next day for the final leg of the march.

SUNDAY, MAY 12 — 10 A.M. Our final leg of the March will begin. This is Mother’s Day. It was the actual day that Coretta Scott King led the kickoff of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. We will gather in front of the corner near Hyattsville Bus Boys & Poets at 5331 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20781
Women participants will lead this part of the March, including the women of OUR Walmart, who are marching in honor of Alan Forest; the mothers and sisters of the victims of police killings; youth from the Dreamers; women workers impacted by the sequestration cuts, and others. Bring your mothers, sisters, daughters and friends on this special day. Honor Mother’s Day in the best way possible. We urge our brothers to bring roses for all the women marchers.
This is the shortest leg of our March.
We expect to arrive at Freedom Plaza at 3 P.M. where we will be greeted by Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Dr. C.T. Vivian, who helped lead the original Poor People’s Campaign. We will also hear greetings from local community and labor representatives and Occupy D.C. from the Peace House.
We will then get snacks and food and proceed to a 5 P.M. People’s Power Assembly where we will hear people’s testimony on the many issues and important proposals about where we should go from there.
8 P.M. to 9 P.M. We will show videos and have teach-ins. During this period, we will hold a meeting of those who will remain in D.C. to decide what we do on Monday and in the future.




2013-05-09 "On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign / ‘We will march to ignite the revolution King called for’" 
by the Rev. C. D. Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference:
Next Saturday morning, many of us will mark the 45th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign that Martin Luther King inspired, but did not live long enough to lead, by marching from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.
On May 11, the families of young Black and Brown people who have been killed by police will link arms with poor people, immigrant workers fighting for their rights, students, Walmart workers, union members, unemployed people and Occupy Wall Street activists, and walk 40 miles south down the highway to Washington, D.C.
We will occupy Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks away from the White House and down the road from the Capitol. There we will erect a big tent and convene a People’s Power Assembly.
We are doing this to bear witness to the truth, and to help spark the social revolution that Dr. King prescribed in the months before his death.
Dr. King often said that truth crushed to earth will rise again. The brutal truth is that the powers that be are waging a war against virtually everything that Dr. King fought and died for.
Fifty years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Monument, King shared his dream with the world. Today more and more of us are living in a nightmare.
Anyone who thought that having an African-American family or a Democrat in the White House would negate the urgent necessity for a social revolution has long awoken from that dream.
Our young people are more likely to be in prison than in a job.
Poverty, unemployment and desperation are more widespread today than they were when King was alive. The pauperization of the population is the biggest crisis today.
The banks got bailed out after the 2008 global financial crash, and the stock market has soared through the roof. But for the rest of us -- the people that Occupy Wall Street calls the 99% -- there’s nothing but economic terrorism in the form of unemployment, evictions, foreclosures, low wages and cutbacks.
The 1% have never been richer, greedier and more determined to eliminate, privatize or otherwise destroy every program that is helpful to the poor.
Wall Street has ordered the politicians and the corporate media to justify the war against the poor.
We’ve been told that the cutting of Social Security, health care and unemployment benefits and the closing of hospitals, schools and post offices are being forced upon us by harsh economic realities.
We’ve been told that there’s no point in proposing a real jobs program because we can’t afford one.
These things are presented to us as though they were inarguable facts. They are not.
They are absurd and cruel lies put forward by the 1% in defense of a social and economic order that puts profits and greed before people’s needs. These lies are meant to demoralize us and persuade us that it’s useless to fight for a world based on equality, justice, solidarity and love.
These lies, and the 1% whose interest they serve, must be defeated.
When King proposed the Poor People’s Campaign in 1967, he said that a revolution of values was needed, one that would transform a profit-centered economy into a people-centered one.
We will be marching on Saturday to ignite that revolution.
For details on the March see [www.PeoplesPowerAssemblies.org]

"Statewide Tour to Pass AB 880 & Close the "Walmart Loophole" Kicks Off in West Sacramento"


2013-05-10 "Sacramento Workers Join Early Morning Protest to Close Walmart Loophole” from "California Labor Federation Spotlight":
This morning before dawn, dozens of workers gathered outside Walmart in West Sacramento to spread the word to shoppers about a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that Walmart and other corporate giants are exploiting to get out of paying their fair share for workers’ health care. They carried signs that read “Protect Taxpayers- Close the Walmart Loophole” and delivered an invoice to the store’s manager that detailed how Walmart’s practice of dumping workers onto Medi-Cal is costing taxpayers $32 million annually.
“Walmart is the most profitable company in the United State of America, with $444 billion in revenue last year alone,” California Labor Federation’s Steve Smith said at the early morning action. “Their CEO makes $28 million a year, and yet they’re pushing their own workers onto Medi-Cal and onto taxpayers.”
---
"Statewide Tour to Pass AB 880 & Close the "Walmart Loophole" Kicks Off in West Sacramento"
by Steve Smith, "California Labor Federation" [http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/site/page/statewide_tour_to_pass_ab_880_close_the_walmart_loophole_kicks_off_in_west]:
Walmart shoppers probably didn’t expect to be greeted this morning at 5am by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the “Walmart Loophole,” which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that’s exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.
 About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour today aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart’s practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state’s largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
 The bill is a fix to a growing problem. Walmart and other large companies are cutting their workers’ hours and wages to skirt their responsibility under the Affordable Care Act to provide affordable health care or pay a penalty. If these large companies reduce workers’ pay to poverty levels, the workers go on Medi-Cal, and Walmart avoids the penalty. As a result, taxpayers have to pick up the tab. It’s called the "Walmart Loophole," and this morning’s demonstrators said it must be closed.
Barbara Aldridge works for Walmart in Placerville. She’s seen her hours erode over the last year to the point that she must apply for public assistance to obtain health coverage for her and her son.
[begin excerpt]
We live paycheck to paycheck. I make $12.05 cents an hour, but of course, I’ve been there for 8 years, and with my hours getting cut it’s a hard struggle. If we get the hours to qualify for (health coverage), we make so little that it’s a decision that’s really hard to make. Winter clothes or health benefits? Food on the table or health benefits? I’m tired of struggling.
[end excerpt]
The protesters delivered a $32 million invoice to Walmart, representing the cost of Walmart shifting its health care responsibilities onto taxpayers every year [http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/site/page/new_report_taxpayers_on_the_hook_when_corporate_giants_dump_workers_onto_me]. Walmart management rejected the invoice, steeling the resolve of today’s demonstrators to pass AB 880 and close the Walmart Loophole.
Watch news coverage from today's actions here [http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/05/10/group-accuses-walmart-of-cutting-employees-hours-to-avoid-healthcare-law/], here [http://www.kcra.com/news/protestors-attack-walmart-loophole-in-west-sacramento/-/11797728/20094948/-/k6ah8z/-/index.html] and here [http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/html5/video?id=9097186&pid=9097207&section=news/politics].
Demonstrators are headed to Stockton and Fresno next as part of a statewide "Close the Walmart Loophole" tour. AB 880 passed the Assembly Health Committee this week and will be heard in the Appropriations Committee as early as next week. The bill is sponsored by the California Labor Federation and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013-05-09 "Obama in Plunderland: Down the Corporate Rabbit Hole"

by Norman Solomon [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/08-0]:
The president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?
Of course the Republican economic program is worse, and President Romney’s policies would have been even more corporate-driven. That doesn't in the slightest make acceptable what Obama is doing. His latest high-level appointments -- boosting corporate power and shafting the public -- are despicable.
To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family. With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.”
A more blunt assessment came from journalist Dennis Bernstein: “Her pioneering sub-prime operations, out of Superior Bank in Chicago, specifically targeted poor and working class people of color across the country. She ended up crashing Superior for a billion-dollar cost to taxpayers, and creating a personal tragedy for the 1,400 people who lost their savings when the bank failed.” Pritzker, whose family controls Hyatt Regency Hotels, has a vile anti-union record.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker? What’s next? Labor Secretary Donald Trump? SEC Chairman Bernie Madoff?
The choice of Penny Pritzker to run the Commerce Department is a matched set with the simultaneous pick of Tom Wheeler -- another mega-fundraiser for candidate Obama -- to chair the Federal Communications Commission.
With crucial decisions on the near horizon at the FCC, the president’s nomination of Wheeler has dire implications for the future of the Internet, digital communications and democracy. For analysis, my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy turned to the progressive former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson, who called the choice “bizarre.”
“There is no single independent regulatory commission that comes close to the impact of the FCC on every American’s life,” Johnson said. “That’s why Congress, in creating it, characterized its mission as serving ‘the public interest’ -- an expression used throughout the Act.”
But with countless billions of dollars at stake, the corporate fix was in. As Johnson pointed out, “Wheeler’s background is as a trade association representative for companies appearing before the Commission, a lobbyist in Congress for other FCC customers, and a venture capitalist investing in and profiting from others whose requests he’ll have to pass on. He has no record, of which I am aware, of challenging corporate abuse of power on behalf of consumers and the poor.”
But wait. There’s more. “Nor does Wheeler’s membership on the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board bode well for those who believe Americans’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights should be getting at least as much attention as the government’s perceived need to engage in even more secret snooping.”
To urge senators to reject the nominations of Pritzker and Wheeler, click here.
Meanwhile, at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Obama’s recent appointment of Wall Street insider Mary Jo White as SEC chair is playing out in predictable fashion. Days ago, in an editorial, the New York Times faulted her role in an SEC decision on regulating the huge derivatives market: “Last week, in her first commission vote, Ms. White led the commissioners in approving a proposal that, if finalized, could leave investors and taxpayers exposed to the ravages of reckless bank trading.”
We need to ask ourselves how the forces of corporate capitalism have gained so much power over government, to the extreme detriment of people who aren’t rich. Humpty Dumpty’s brief dialectical exchange with Alice is on point:
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," Alice replied, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," Humpty Dumpty responded, "which is to be master -- that's all."
Denunciations and protests against the dominant power structure are essential. And insufficient. For the body politic and the potential of democracy, accommodating to the Democratic Party leadership is a deathly prescription. So is failure to fight for electoral power by challenging that leadership, fielding genuinely progressive candidates and organizing to win.

Bohemian Grove stories


"Bohemian Grove Photos: Set 1" 
photos and text copyright © 1997 Kerry Richardson, archived at [http://www.sonic.net/~kerry/bohemian/photosone.html]:
Ronald Reagan is one of several former United States Presidents who are or were members of the Bohemian Club. Others include George Bush, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, and Herbert Hoover. Reagan's administration had a strong overlap with the Bohemian Club, several of his cabinet members were also affiliated with the Bohemian Club. This photo was made July 29, 1989 after Reagan was out of office. He did not attend the summer Bohemian Grove encampments while in office. His travelling companion pictured in the yellow shirt is retired U.S. Marine Lt. General Victor Krulak who, along with Reagan, is affiliated with the "Owl's Nest" camp within the Bohemian Grove. Sort of a summer camp for grownups, the Bohemian Grove contains over 100 residential camps with names such as "Lost Angels", "Mandalay", and "Cave Man."

Secretary of State George Shultz (in the dark shirt on the plane ramp) arrived in Santa Rosa on an Air Force jet en route to the Bohemian Grove Friday, July 22, 1988. Traveling with Shultz was then National Security Advisor Colin Powell. This was before Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and before the Gulf War. Shultz is affiliated with the "Mandalay" camp at the Bohemian Grove and attended the summer gatherings while serving as Secretary of State.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, shown here en route to the Bohemian Grove with Drew Lewis of Union Pacific in 1986, likes to attend the Grove gathering and has been featured as a speaker at the "Lakeside Talks" that occur daily during the two-and-one-half week long Bohemian Grove encampment. At the Grove, Kissinger often host guests who have included foreign dignitaries and clients of Kissinger's consulting firm. Like George Shultz, former Secretary of State Kissinger is affiliated with the "Mandalay" camp, as is Drew Lewis.


2001-06-19 "Meet the Secret Rulers of the World: The Truth About The Bohemian Grove"
by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair [http://www.counterpunch.org/2001/06/19/the-truth-about-the-bohemian-grove/]:
Where’s the fashionable rendezvous for the World’s Secret Government? In the good old days when the Illuminati had a firm grip on things, it was wherever the Bilderburgers decided to pitch their tents. Then Nelson and David Rockefeller horned their way in, and the spotlight moved to the Trilateral Commisssion. Was there one secret government or two? Some said all the big decisions were taken in England, at Ditchley, not so far from the Appeasers’ former haunts at Cliveden and only an hour by Learjet from Davos, which is where jumped up finance ministers and self-inflating tycoons merely pretend they rule the world.
Secret World rulers spend a good deal of time in the air, whisking from Davos to APEC meetings somewhere in Asia, to Ditchley, to Sun Valley, Idaho, though mercifully no longer to the Clinton-favored Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head, South Carolina. But comes next July 14 and every self-respecting member of the Secret World government will be in a gloomy grove of redwoods alongside the Russian river in northern California, preparing to Banish Care for the 122nd time, prelude to three weeks drinking gin fizzes and hashing out the future of the world.
If the avenging posses mustered by the Bohemian Grove Action Network manage this year to burst through the security gates at the Bohemian Grove, they will (to extrapolate from numerous eyewitness accounts of past sessions) find proofs most convincing to them that here indeed is the ruling crowd in executive session: hundreds of near-dead white men sitting by a lake listening to Henry Kissinger, plus many other near-dead white men in adjacent landscape in a state of intoxication so advanced that many of them had fallen insensible among the ferns, gin fizz glasses gripped firmly till the last.
The avenging posses may find some puzzling elements within the Grove. Why, for example, areat least 80 percent of the Bohemians in a state of intoxication so advanced that many of them had fallen insensible among the ferns, gin fizz glasses gripped firmly till the last? Why so many games of dominoes? Why the evidence that a significant portion of the Secret Government appear to be involved in some theatrical production, involving the use of women’s clothes and lavish application of make-up?
Many an empire has of course been run by drunken men wearing make-up. But a long, hard look at the Bohemian Club, its members and appurtenances, sug-gests that behind the pretense of Secret Government lies the reality of a summer camp for a bunch of San Francisco businessmen, real estate plungers and lawyers who long ago had the cunning to recruit some outside megawattage (e.g., Herbert Hoover, a Rockefeller, Richard Nixon) to turn their mundane frolicking into the simulacrum of Secret Government and make the yokels gape.
The simulacrum isn’t half bad. For Republicans the club is an antechamber to the White House. Teddy Roosevelt was a member. So, as noted, was Herbert Hoover. In his memoirs Hoover wrote that within one hour of Calvin Coolidge’s announcement in 1927 that he would not run again, “a hundred men... editors, publishers, public officials and others from all over the country who were at the Grove, came to my camp demanding that I announce my candidacy.” Hoover was at the Grove again the following summer, as he had been with some considerable regularity since 1911, when news came that Republicans had chosen him for their candidate.
A speech to the industrial and financial titans clustered for one of the Grove’s famous lake-side talks could make or break a candidacy. After a poor reception, Nelson Rockefeller abandoned his bid for the Republican nomination in 1964. Richard Nixon, like Hoover a member of Cave Man’s camp inside the Grove, got a rapturous reception in 1967 and pressed forward to the nomination and the White House. It was at the Bohemian Grove that America’s nuclear weapons program was first devised by physicists such as Ernest O. Lawrence and Edward Teller, both members, meeting with other members who were then in government, all confident of the security of the redwood club-house built by Bernard Maybeck (one of our favorite American architects) in 1904.
European leaders travel discreetly to the Grove to ad-dress the American elite. German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (not to be confused with Club members Chauncey E. Schmidt or Jon Eugene Schmidt) strolled its paths with club member Henry Kissinger, as did French socialist leader Michael Rocard. Where else could such men hope to chat privately with the head of IBM, a couple of Rockefellers, bankers galore, a Justice of the US Supreme Court and Charlton Heston? Even the prickly Lee Kuan Yew hastened to visit the club, only to have the mortification of being mistaken for a waiter.
The Bohemian Club began as a San Francisco institution in 1872, founded by journalists and kindred lowly scriveners as an excuse for late-night boozing. Its membership was dignified by Jack London, Mark Twain, Bret Harte and other literary roustabouts who had fetched up in the city after the Gold Rush.
The hacks soon concluded that Bohemianism, in the sense of real poverty, was oppressive. “It was decided,” clubman Ed Bosque wrote, “we should invite an element to join the Club which the majority of its members held in contempt, namely men who had money as well as brains, but who were not, strictly speaking, Bohemians.” So they pulled in a few wealthy men of commerce to pay for the champagne and the rot soon set in. Within a very few years the lowly scriveners were on their way out — except for a few of the more presentable among them to lend a pretense of Boho-dom — and Mammon had seized power.
There were laments. “The salt has been washed out of the Club by commercialism,” one writer grumbled. On his visit to the city, Oscar Wilde gazed around at the fleshy faces and handsomely attired members and re-marked, “I have never seen so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-like looking bohemians in all my life.”
The final blow to the hacks came soon thereafter. Near the end of the last century the cult of the redwood grove as Nature’s cathedral was in full swing and the Boho-businessmen yearned to give their outings a tinc-ture of spiritual uplift. The long-range planning commit-tee of the club decided to buy a grove some sixty miles north of the city near the town of Monte Rio. When the wheeling and dealing was over, the club owned 2,700 acres of redwoods — a grove of the mightiest of thou-sand-year-old Sequoia sempervirens:
“We are grown men now,” a piece of club literature announced in the early 1920s, “but each year in the hard procession of our days there comes, thank God, to us Bohemians, a recess time — it is upon us. Come out, Bohemians. Come out and play!” Soon the ancient redwoods, hated by the Pomo Indians of the area as clammy and sepulchral, rang to the laughter of the disporting men of commerce.
When all is said and done, the way the beleaguered American male asserts his personhood, defies convention, hails the American dream, is to piss against a tree. Indeed, when confronted with a sex-discrimination suit a few years ago, the Bohemians indignantly asserted that theirs had to be a Men Only institution precisely because any woman entering the club’s precincts would see nothing but men occupied in this crude pastime.
Like all such institutions the club has its rituals, its ceremonies, its hallowed rules. In June there are three long weekends of Springjinks, mostly attended by Californians. At the opening of each summer season proper, on July 14 this year, there is the traditional masque, representing the banishment of Care. Amid somber music, horses carrying caped riders gallop through the trees. Then, eerily picked out by torchlight, robed tycoons move slowly into a clearing with a bier supporting the effigy of Care. Amid stentorian chants, a blare of music and leaping flames, Care is finally cremated. In its place the flame of eternal friend-ship is ignited and three weeks of Boho-dom are underway.
This amalgam of pop Druidry, Klan kitsch and Fraserian mumbo- jumbo stems from the nineteenth-century passion for “ancient ritual.” Two thousand miles away, at the other end of the continent, the same impulse produced Mardi Gras in New Orleans, with its Mystick Krewe, its Elves of Oberon and the tribute paid by Rex to Comus. Many of the Boho rituals and its first play, The Triumph of Bohemia, were worked up by a real estate speculator called George Sterling who took to poesy and Boho-dom late in life and banished Care permanently in 1926 by taking strychnine in the Club’s city premises.
A college kid we’ll call Tom — the arm of the Secret Government is, after all, far-reaching — worked at the Bohemian Grove each summer for three years in the middle 1990s. At that time (and we doubt things have changed) the basic wage for the very ample force required to assist in the banishing of Care is not handsome — $5 to $6 an hour. But Tom worked for an independent con-tractor supplying food and help and got $125 a day plus tips (officially banned at the Grove) and ended up with $3,000 for his three-week stint.
Tom’s day began at 5:30 a.m., preparing for break-fast. The Bohemian Club is set up along frat house lines. Instead of Deltas and Pi Etas there are camps, some 120 in all, stretching along River Road and Morse Stephens canyon. Their names follow the imaginative arc of American industrialists and financiers over the past hun-dred years, from Druids to Hillbillies (George Bush, Walter Cronkite, William F. Buckley), Isle of Aves (John E. Du Pont), Meyerling, Owl’s Nest (Eddie Albert, Ronald Reagan), Silverado Squatters, Totem Inn (which has actually boasted a writer, Allen Drury), Woof (former Secretary of State James A. Baker III), Wayside Log (which has boasted another writer, Herman Wouk), Ye Merrie Yowls, Zaca.
The camp Tom lived and worked at was thick with real estate tycoons and had a reputation for good food and comfortable appointments. Tom fixed the early morning gin fizzes and kindred cobweb banishers. He got the pa-pers — San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, New York Times. He cleaned up the mess left by the Bohos’ nocturnal revels. He served up the fruits, juices, eggs and bacon and listened to captains of commerce start their day’s chat about business affairs. The club has a famous motto, “weaving spiders not come here,” meaning No shop talk, but Tom laughs. “They talk business here all the time. The younger members brown-nose shamelessly, making contacts.” By midmorning it’s another day in Bohemia, with Tom’s hands never idle as he runs up Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. The members prefer to mix their own martinis.
Though he was no career man at the Grove Tom had already taken on a caustic loyalty to his camp. He sneered at nearby Abbey, a lowly place equipped merely with tents and believed to have a tradition of unmentionable prac-tices. He sneered too, though more deferentially, at lordly Mandalay camp, inaccessible save by written invitation by a member, luxuriously appointed and stocked with the Membership Committee’s most determined stab at the pretense of Secret Government. Here are to be found members of the Bechtel clan owners of the largest engineering contractorship in the world, veterans of Republican Washington of the era of Gerorge Bush Sr (former Treasury Secretary Nick Brady, former Secretary of State George Shultz), souvenirs of industrial might (Leonard K. Firestone. Edgar F. Kaiser), 1970s retro (Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger) and foreign bric-a-brac (Andrew Knight of The Economist).
The waiting lists for membership are so long it takes years for the novitiate to be admitted. Lobbying is pathetically fierce. Tom Watson, the builder of IBM, once took a long weekend off from his retirement job as US ambassador to Moscow to fly to San Francisco to dine with a Bohemian Grove board member and discreetly lobby for membership. A friend of mine, big in Reagan time, has been on the doorstep for 15 years. He says he likes it that way. He’s spared the hefty sign-up fee of around $10,000 and annual membership dues and only has to pony up when he’s invited, which is every two or three years. Particularly in the more sumptuous camps even this takes plenty of money, sharing bills for retinues of uniformed servants, vintage cellars, master chefs and kindred accouterments of spiritual refreshment. But what, in the end, does the member get for his pains?
There are lakeside talks. Here, of an evening, Grovers can hear a banker or a Treasury official wend his way through the intricacies of Third World debt rescheduling, or listen to a European leader who will offer himself up for inspection. There are increasingly popular science talks at the Bohemian Grove’s museum. During the day there are enviro-strolls with some biologist from Stanford or Berkeley lecturing his retinue on successional stages in redwood regeneration. There’s skeet-shooting on the private range. There’s endless dominoes — the Grove’s board-game par excellence. There’s Not Being At Home with the wife. But best of all, there are the talent revue and the play.
Visit some corporate suite in San Francisco in June or early July and if you see the CEO brooding thoughtfully before his plate-glass window overlooking the Bay Bridge, the chances are he is not thinking about some impending take-over or merciless down-sizing. He is probably worrying about the cut of his tutu for the drag act for which he has been rehearsing keenly for many months.
These plays are planned five years in advance, with no expense spared. Tycoons vie eagerly for the privilege of shifting a stage prop or securing the best computerized lighting system that money can provide. Although the talent shows put on by Merv Griffin and Art Linkletter were reckoned at least in past years to be good, the plays are pretty awful, heavily freighted with double-entendres about swollen members and the like. A poster for one Grove play, Pompeii, featured a mighty erection under a toga, modeled no doubt on the redoubtable organ in the Pompeiian fresco photographed by many a touring tycoon.
Along with the big play there is the comedy revue — Low Jinks — for which members again rehearse with passionate anticipation. World affairs stood still a few seasons ago as Henry Kissinger prepared for his big moment, which was to enter, dressed as a dumpy man wearing a Kissinger mask which he duly pulled off, to reveal the ever-familiar features, while announcing in his glottal accent, “I am here because I have always been convinced that The Low Jinks is the ultimate aphrodisi-ac.” Puissance — this is after all a mature crowd scampering about amid the Sequoia sempervirens — is a big theme, and the drag acts are heavily overstated.
Boho-member Wouk once got off a sententious paragraph about the Grove being the site of that purest of loves, the friendship that men can nourish between each other in noble surroundings. Some years ago a gay writer called Ron Bluestein described his stint waitering at the Grove in a very funny pamphlet, “A Waitress in Bohemia,” in which he evoked the below-the-stairs homosexual culture fostered by a workforce mostly recruited from San Francisco. Some anthropologists of Boho culture even believe that the Grove is now encircled with gay residential suburbs that have inevitably sprung up to accommodate these migrants.
Informed sources discount these stories somewhat. Of course there are gay waiters and gay bohemians too, discreetly cruising River Road, but it seems that it was back in the 1970s things got somewhat out of hand. The Club took certain measures and things are now under control.
Along with its most definitely closet contingent, the club also has about 2,000 heterosexuals cooped up for the summer retreat, with no women officially on the premises except for a daily minibus of female cleaners — the consequence of a lawsuit brought by feminists a few years ago — which can go no farther into the Grove than the Camp Fire circle, 400 yards from the Main Gate. Randy members break bounds and head for such straight cruising spots as the Northwood Lodge and Country Club where vigorously bejeweled women in their thirties are to be found
A few years ago KGO radio, out of San Francisco, had an interesting talk show in which callers with first-hand Grove experience told their tales. A man from Monte Rio said he was only one of several towns-people renting cabins every year to prostitutes traveling from as far as Las Vegas to renew the Bohos’ spiritual fibers. He said it was a big shot in the arm for Monte Rio’s ailing economy. This same caller moved from shots in the arm to shots in another location. He said he stocked his cabins with plenty of booze as well as syringes of a potency drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration which furnishes four to six-hour erections. Sempervirens indeed. The Monte Rio caller added that at least this quotient of Secret Government included good tippers, doling out splendid gratuities to their companions.
 In the 1990s the Grove’s reputation as the site of Secret Government was in eclipse. The Mandalay camp roster told the story, with its grizzled veterans of the Reagan-Bush years. The contours of the Republican Party had changed, in a manner not entirely suited to the Club. The young Christian zealots of the Newt revolution were scarcely Low Jinksters, and Newt — he did give a lake-side talk in 1995 — was a little too tacky in style for the gin fizz set. Dole wasn’t even a member and with Bill and Hillary in office, journalists dashed off each year to the Carolina coast to write about the Renaissance Weekend at Hilton Head where the idiom was of the 1990s — self-awareness, being in touch with your inner self, networking — rather than the 1890s — making merrie, getting drunk and us-ing the Old Boy Net.
But here we are in the Bush II era, and the Bush Clan is pure Secret Government, all the way from the old Rockefeller connection, to Skull and Bones and the Knights of Malta. Dick Cheney’s a Grover.
So spare yourself the expense of traveling from Quebec to the next session of the WTO. Voyage to Sonoma County and muster against Secret World Government which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly secret. For the Rally and Line of Shame, be at the Monte Rio parking lot across from the Rio theater at 2pm, July 14
For further details, call the Bohemian Grove Action Network, whose Mary Moore has been chivvying the Grovers for twenty years, at 707-874-2248 or check out http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.org


1991-11 "Inside Bohemian Grove: The Story People Magazine Won't Let You Read"
from "Extra!":
When Dirk Mathison, San Francisco bureau chief for People magazine, infiltrated the exclusive Bohemian Grove retreat this summer, he got a view into the U.S. elite that very few reporters have glimpsed. Unfortunately, that elite includes the management of Time Warner, the owner of People, which prevented Mathison from telling his story.
 Bohemian Grove, a secluded campground in California's Sonoma County, is the site of an annual two-week gathering of a highly select, all-male club, whose members have included every Republican president since Calvin Coolidge. Current participants include George Bush, Henry Kissinger, James Baker and David Rockefeller -- a virtual who's who of the most powerful men in business and government.
 Few journalists have gotten into the Grove and been allowed to tell the tale (one exception is Philip Weiss, whose November 1989 Spy piece provides the most detailed inside account), and members maintain that the goings-on there are not newsworthy events, merely private fun. In fact, official business is conducted there: Policy speeches are regularly made by members and guests, and the club privately boasts that the Manhattan Project was conceived on its grounds.
 Given the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Bohemian "encampment," a reporter needs to enter the grounds covertly in order to get a full portrait. Mathison entered the grounds three times July 1991, aided by activists from the Bohemian Grove Action Network.
 He witnessed a speech -- "Smart Weapons" -- by former Navy Secretary John Lehman, who stated that the Pentagon estimates that 200,000 Iraqis were killed by the U.S. and its allies during the Gulf War. Other featured speakers included Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on "Major Defense Problems of the 21st Century", former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano on "America's Health Revolution -- Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Pays", and former Attorney General Elliott Richardson on "Defining the New World Order".
 Mathison's entree into the secret world of the Grove was cut short on July 20, however, when he was recognized by two of the participants in the festivities -- executives from Time Warner, People's publisher. More loyal to the Grove than to journalistic endeavor, they had the reporter removed from the premises (San Francisco Weekly, 8/7/91).
 Mathison already had plenty of material, however, and turned in an article to his editors, which was scheduled to appear in the Aug. 5, 1991 issue. They were pleased with the piece, according to Mathison: "They liked it enough to expand it a bit," he told Extra!.
 But then the story was suddenly killed. Landon Jones, managing editor of People, told Extra! that the decision had nothing to do with the Time Warner executives. "It was cut partially because he hadn't been there long enough to get a complete story. Secondly, we felt very uncertain about reporting what we did have, because, and this is my fault and I take responsibility for this, I simply didn't realize it was technically trespassing."
 For his part, Mathison said he did not know why the story was killed, and implied it would be nearly impossible to find the real reason. "It's easier to penetrate the Bohemian Grove than the Time-Life Building," he told Extra!.
 But the story raises questions about the ability of a media entity to report critically on an elite when its executives are enthusiastic members of that elite. Indeed, the Time organization was noted for sending a corporate plane to the Bohemian gathering every year, according to long-time Grove-watcher Kerry Richardson.
 Time Warner is not the only media corporation with Bohemian connections. The list of Fourth Estate bigwigs who have been members or guests is extensive: Franklin Murphy, the former CEO of the Times Mirror corporation; William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; Jack Howard and Charles Scripps of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain; Tom Johnson, president of CNN and former publisher of the Los Angeles Times.
 When Associated Press president Louis Boccardi spoke at one of the Grove's "Lakeside Talks" about kidnapped reporter Terry Anderson (Spy, 11/89), he referred to his audience as men of "power and rank" and "gave them more details than he said he was willing to give his readers."
 Walter Cronkite, now on the CBS board, hangs out at the same lodge at Bohemian Grove as George Bush and the former chairs of Procter & Gamble and Bank of America; Cronkite's voice has served as the voice of the Owl of Bohemia, a fixture in the club's mock-druidic rituals.
The media figures attending the retreat all agree not to report on what goes on inside. The prohibition seems to apply to reporters who are not guests or members as well: In 1982, NPR got a recording of Henry Kissinger's speech at the Grove -- but declined to air it (Spy, 11/89). Also in 1982, a Time reporter went undercover as a waiter in Bohemian Grove; like Mathison's People article, his story was killed